Most experienced language translators at one time or another have been given a job to translate and localize a survey for a marketing research company. At times, a professional translator may also be asked to collect secondary data that consists of reports and articles for a client and then translate them. Generally, translators who specialize in international marketing research encounter different circumstances than their domestic counterparts.
To begin with, there is rarely a wealth of available secondary data such as is found in the United States. American researchers are lucky. There are volumes of statistics and editorial literature about the people and the markets in the United States. A Chicago Portuguese Translation Services worker who specializes in marketing research in Brazil indicated, “In some Portuguese speaking countries, a census has never been taken.” He also reported that in some of the developing nations, the view seems to be that anyone wanting to pry into another person’s life must have less than honorable intentions. Often too, the lack of data and the different social patterns make it difficult for a researcher to use all the tools available. Carefully planned samples may be impossible to develop. A Philadelphia Translation Services worker indicates, “Telephone directories usually don’t include the entire population and are frequently out of date.” Street maps are unavailable in many cities in Latin, Central and South America and Asia. In fact, in some large metropolitan areas of the Near east and Asia, streets are unnamed and the houses on them are unnumbered.
Nevertheless, marketing research is clearly vital. Many research techniques that are needed to identify cultural difference have been borrowed from cultural anthropology. Included among these techniques is content analysis, especially the analysis of marketing communications used in particular nations.